Everybody practiced; the whole roster should be available.
Forecast looks good for Giants Stadium on Sunday? The elements can be a great equalizer, I know having coached in that stadium. When you're used to it and practice in it, it can be a good advantage. There's nothing I can do about it. The forecast on Sunday doesn't look too bad.
Giants hold the tie-breakers over you, does that make this game bigger? The only thing the tiebreakers are, are hypotheticals at this point. It is an important game, but until the last week of the season, talking about that stuff is an exercise in futility.
Gramatica hasn't missed yet in practice. I can't recall Vanderjagt doing that, but that doesn't mean anything. We're giving him a few kicks in practice trying to get him used to Tony and LP. He was hurt before. He had something with his groin in '03. They tried to keep him alive for the season using painkillers for the games. He had a hernia surgery that didn't work out well in `04. Then he had a surgery that fixed his abductor muscle and hasn't had problems since. I knew what he did this summer and they [New England] told me there were no problems.
Why didn't anybody else pick him up? The Colts had him for a while. I don't know, I don't know who else was having problems. I know Washington is having them.
How far can he kick from on Sunday? I have a ceiling based on warm-ups, what the wind is etc. but that is normal business with any player. I wait until I get there in that stadium to determine his ceiling. I think his kickoffs will be OK, as good as what we had.
I haven't said anything about the Shockey comments.
Are the Giants more dangerous because of what's been happening to them recently? Regardless, the Giants are a dangerous opponent because of the first game we played. That's the reason I regard them as dangerous. I'm not speaking about the Giants, but I have seen in the history of sports this kind of thing cause problems. But there's a 50/50 chance the media reporting is not accurate, anyway.
I would doubt their unraveling and I expect a tough game. A team with their capabilities, playing them on the road, you're concerned. They will be in better health than they have been over the last month.
I think our defensive line is playing better recently. Ferguson is the key guy, it all starts with him. Spears has picked it up a bit. I need more from Chris Canty. He plays on the weak-side so a lot of plays go the other way and he gets frustrated. I tell him to just play the defense and the plays will come back to you if you hustle. I talk about techniques. Ratliff and Hatcher have been a help. We've only got one NT, but Stanley looks better than earlier when we had him. They must have coached him better where he was at.
Ratliff is doing well, he's an active player with a good motor, he helps on the pass rush.
Watkins is a question of a young player knowing more about what to do, knowing more about the league. He's got more awareness of the Giants now, having played them before. He should be better off.
Do you talk to the young guys about accepting their roles? I talk to them about earning their time to play. You don't inherit anything in this league; you earn the right to play. If you have talent but you don't study and get mentally ready, then I won't play you. They have different body clocks. Some of these young guys are ready now; some need two years of work. You can't just lump them all in one category. I see potential, but they may be lacking awareness, or strength, or knowledge of the system. My job is to identify the problem and try to direct the player properly towards what he needs to be successful.
I don't ask them to do me a favor by accepting a role. You have to earn your way into it. Sometimes the mix is different than what they did in college. Egos get bruised, they wonder why is my former college teammate playing in Seattle and I'm sitting here in Dallas.
Burnett has found his role.
As a part-time player? That's a valuable thing, he's a 600-play player, and add in special teams you get 800-play player. That's valuable.
Why did Romo struggle in the first Giants' game? I don't know, we were one dimensional after his first play, we were down 19-7. But I think he's different now, with games under his belt, 3 of them on the road. That's good experience.
Does Romo remind you of Simms? Simms was unique unto himself. I'm a little prejudiced though.
Does he remind you of Ray Lucas, who helped save a season for you? He has some characteristics like Ray Lucas had, the leadership qualities, being honest, forthright, a responsible guy. But he was like Romo in that they are both extremely confident in their abilities, you have to let them experience bad things to learn what they could and couldn't do, then channel it. Ray had a great arm, he though he could put the ball anywhere he wanted to. Mechanically, he would over-stride and the ball would go high if he was throwing the ball hard. On a touch pass he would keep his feet together and the ball goes into the ground. Dan Henning fixed that problem. Tony is like that, overthrowing, some of the same stuff. He's gotten away from that some.
Ray did an outstanding job for us, he played above his level, and he was very competitive. He won a Monday night game for us in Miami. Tony isn't that far along yet, but I hope we get some of the same results.
Could it help your team if the Giants fans turn on the players at the game? Giants fans are loyal, like most division fans in the NFC East. A lot would have to go wrong for them to turn. I wouldn't expect that we would be going into a comfortable atmosphere.
Can you hear the fans when they get on you or the team? One good thing about the earphones, they drown out the crowd.
What has been Romo's biggest improvement over his starts? Managing the game. When he first got in, it was down to the wire on every play. He's playing with better tempo and clock management. That's an important phase of offensive football. You can apply pressure to the defense. We send in two plays and you need time to get to the right play. A poor game manager means timeouts and he gets you into bad plays. He has to get to the right play.
Who is most responsible for Romo's development? David Lee, Sean Payton and Chris Palmer. You'd have to ask Romo which one had the biggest impact.
How do you think Flozell will play against Umenyiora? We gave up six sacks and 4 INT's last time, that's a season worth. And it wasn't just Flozell. He knows the player well [Umenyiora]. He's a big athletic guy. He's not the only guy like that in the league, he's good DE. He's coming off a serious injury, being out this long with a hip flexor it's serious. We'll see.
Is Julius rested? Julius is very well-rested. He says he's feeling good.
How come his yards per carry average is down? One disadvantage is that when Marion is in there, it's against a wore-down defense, he's picking up the crumbs. Starting out the game is tougher sledding. I've had no thoughts about changing the order. I like it the way it is. It hasn't changed from camp. On a weekly basis, the numbers could change some. But I like to see a 2-1 ratio in that area, moving even more towards 50/50. I'm equally confident in both players. Both have their own best qualities. You see it around the league. When you can't do it, like in Denver, Tatum Bell has been hurt and they are using just one guy now instead of two and it's hurt them. The only team with a one guy deal is KC. Physically that guy is such a bigger, different kind of back.
Julius just knows the game better, now. He's smarter. Come in here on any Monday morning after a game, he's one of the first guys in the building. He's in there doing squats, doing his weight program, getting the game out of his system. He's got it now. I always talk about Curtis Martin to him, what a RB needs to do to survive. I think he realizes how hard it is. He has his brother to talk to also; he probably takes what I say and bounces it off his brother.
Does Julius complain about getting to the 10-yard line then Barber scores the TD? I don't think about that. He never says anything about it, never anything close to that.
What if he did? The we would have to have a discussion.
How come he hasn't had a lot of long runs recently? He can rip off a good run if he has room. He's doing alright. (To reporter) How many yards does he have? (850 or so) What does that project to over the season? (Around 1200) I'll take 1200 yards for the season or do you want 1400? How many yards does Barber have? (Close to 500) OK, we got 1300 yards between the two of them. I could ride either one. I'm doing what is best, using two of them. Julius sees Barber can help the team, you'd have to be blind not to see it. Barber never says anything, anyway.
How are Ayodele and James playing? Akin Ayodele has improved immeasurably since the start of the season, he understand the defense better now. He played a different style of defense before. On pass defense he's much better now.
What about Bradie James? Bradie James is playing too high right now, he needs to get down low or they're going to put his lipstick on the pavement someday.